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NFT trading cards: What they are and how they work

NFT trading cards aren’t just for collecting, you may want to up your game or trade for a profit.

NFTs can be categorised in many ways — collectible and playable NFT trading cards among them. These NFTs are similar to traditional NFT trading card collections trading cards, with values that depend on the market conditions, consumer desirability and rarity.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.

What is a trading card NFT?

A non-fungible token — better known as an NFT — is a one-of-a-kind digital asset that can take the form of a graphic, audio file, video clip, GIF and more. You can even buy an NFT character to play within video game metaverses.

An NFT trading card is created by taking a digital file and converting it into a cryptocurrency token that exists on a blockchain — a public ledger on which transactions are recorded. Collectors purchase trading card NFTs to display in a personal gallery or sell on the secondary market with the hopes of earning a profit.

It's not only the NFT that's recorded on a blockchain: Each transaction involving that NFT is recorded as well, allowing for the creator who minted the NFT to earn royalties on each sale down the line.

Most NFT trading cards are bought and sold using cryptocurrency on online marketplaces.

How does a trading card NFT work?

Trading card NFTs can vary in utility. Many collectors buy them to show off for clout or bragging rights, just as hobbyists do with physical cards at conventions. Others collect NFT cards as investments, selling off those that appreciate in value.

NFT-based trading card games — or TCGs for short — are popular among those who enjoy role-playing or battling. Games like the multiplayer blockchain game Gods Unchained allow players to create decks of NFT trading cards that are used to battle other players.

Gods Unchained
Image source: Immutable - Gods Unchained

With Axie Infinity, players rely on NFT cards to give their Axies special abilities that are helpful in battles.

Axie World
Image source: Axie World

The industry is similar to IRL trading card games like Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon TCG, where deck builds or cards are valued depending on their use, rarity and popularity.

Yet gaming isn't the only space for NFT trading cards — you can buy sport trading cards NFTs through online marketplaces like NBA Top Shot, which specialises in selling NBA player NFTs.

Finder survey: What assets do Australians invest in?

Individual stocks34.39%
Real estate19.13%
Index funds (e.g. ETFs)17.74%
Other cryptocurrencies11%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1009 Australians, December 2023

Trading card NFT marketplaces

Deciding on a marketplace for trading card NFTs depends on the genre you're interested in, among them:

  • NBA Top Shot — NBA-licensed marketplace featuring NFTs of NBA video clips, players and team packs.
  • OpenSea — Mixed marketplace that includes gaming trading cards, sports, blockchain gaming NFTs and more.
  • Sorare Marketplace — Fantasy soccer marketplace featuring player trading cards.
  • Waxstash – Marketplace built on the Worldwide Asset eXchange featuring Funko, Splinterlands and other NFT trading card collections.

NFT trading card collections

The market for trading cards is expansive, with many collections and games to browse.

Popular trading card collections include:

  • Age of Chains
  • Axie Infinity
  • Candy Digital
  • Curio Cards
  • Crypto Strikers
  • Gods Unchained
  • Sorare
  • Spells of Genesis

How to make money with trading card NFTs

How you make money with NFT trading cards doesn't differ much from making money with trading cards IRL.

You focus on collecting rare or high-profile NFTs with the goal of selling them for a profit as they appreciate. You can also keep an eye on scheduled drops to grab limited cards to sell on the secondary market.

There's nothing stopping you from creating your own line of trading cards and hoping to earn. Yet because many trading card NFTs are licensed through organisations like the NFL or minted by video game companies for use within associated metaverses, it's not as easy for smaller creators to compete in the market.

What makes NFT trading cards valuable

The biggest factors affecting NFT trading card value are consumer interest and rarity. Rare precious metals are valuable because they're uncommon, and same for rare NFTs.

Driving forces in trading card values are:

  • Rarity. If it's hard to get your hands on a particular NFT or collection, it's going to be worth more on the market.
  • Utility. In gaming, cards offer unique applications or represent stronger or weaker game characters..
  • Certification. Many sports trading cards are backed by licensing from official sports clubs or leagues.

Like with traditional trading cards, values of NFT trading cards can fluctuate by the second. New NFTs and collections are released all the time, and trends — especially gaming trends — change. Keep a close eye on drops, news and play styles for help in deciding what to buy and sell.

How to buy NFT trading cards

You can buy, sell and trade NFT trading cards by signing up for a marketplace or game that offers them. While steps differ among these platforms, you can expect to follow four general steps:

  • Set up a digital wallet. Compare top crypto wallets like MetaMask, WalletConnect or Ledger.
  • Add crypto to your wallet. Buy crypto from an exchange with fiat currency and transfer it to your digital wallet. Or transfer tokens you already own to your wallet.
  • Choose a marketplace or game. Look for NFT collections on marketplaces and games like OpenSea, NBA Top Shot, Candy Digital, Axie Infinity and Upland, among many other marketplaces.
  • Choose a trading card NFT. Most marketplaces allow you to filter by collection and creator to narrow down your options, with NFTs sold at fixed prices or at auction.

You'll need to transfer trading cards designed for use in a game to your account or wallet attached to that game. For example, the play-to-earn game Bomb Crypto requires a MetaMask wallet.

Compare NFT marketplaces

1 - 5 of 8
Name Product Categories Services Blockchains Payment methods
CoinSpot NFT Marketplace
Sports, Collectibles, Art, Music, Trading cards, Domain names, Metaverse (Virtual Worlds), Memes, DeFi
Buy, Sell
Ethereum, Polygon, Klaytn, Flow, Enjin, Chiliz, Hive, EOS, SOL, GALA
Cryptocurrency, Bank transfer
CoinSpot lets you buy, sell and swap 100s of cryptos from its simple-to-use desktop or app trading accounts.
Binance NFT Marketplace
Binance NFT Marketplace
Sports, Collectibles, Art, Gaming, Music, Trading cards, Domain names, Metaverse (Virtual Worlds), Memes, DeFi, Mixed
Buy, Sell, Mint
Credit card, Debit card, Cryptocurrency, Bank transfer
A peer-to-peer marketplace supported by one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance.
Collectibles, Gaming, Trading cards
Buy, Sell, Stake
Cryptocurrency, PayPal
Splinterlands is a digital, play-to-earn, collectible card game built on hive blockchain technology.
Sports, Collectibles, Art, Gaming, Music, Trading cards, Domain names, Metaverse (Virtual Worlds), Memes, DeFi, Film & TV, Photography, Mixed, Books, Media File, Templates, Metaverse
Sell, Mint
Ethereum, Polygon
Credit card, Debit card, Cryptocurrency, PayPal
Sports, Collectibles, Gaming, Trading cards
Buy, Sell
Credit card, Debit card, Cryptocurrency, Bank transfer
A fantasy football game with collectible NFT cards, officially supported by the biggest soccer leagues in the world.

NFT trading card fees

You can expect to pay a transaction fee when buying NFTs. Called gas fees, they're used to cover the cost of powering the exchange of cryptocurrency — like a processing fee. How much you pay to complete a transaction varies depending on the day and the blockchain.

Gas fees are typically the only fee you're likely to encounter when purchasing NFTs.

What to watch out for

NFTs are stored in digital wallets. Keeping your digital wallet safe is largely your responsibility — meaning, you must safeguard your password to minimise the risk of hacking or theft. And marketplaces typically aren't accountable for fraudulent purchases, nor will they refund your money if you're unhappy.

Look out for common scams when buying, selling or trading NFT trading cards:

  • Illegitimate trading cards. You can minimise purchasing fake or otherwise fraudulent NFTs by buying from a legitimate marketplace and looking for seller verification marks — like a blue check next to the seller's username.
  • Phishing and catfishing. Always go directly to the marketplace to buy, sell or trade an NFT, rather than click an embedded button from an email or on a forum. And never give your keys to somebody who says they need them to complete your purchase.
  • Rug-pulling scams. Do your research before jumping on a collection that sounds too good to pcgambe true. NFT promoters have been known to draw in buyers with promises of future wealth only to stop trading and run off with hopeful investors' money.

While the NFT world is exciting, it's still new and largely unregulated. Consider all possibilities when making large investments, and don't spend more than you can afford to lose.

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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